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© 2005

Exploring Ancient Skies

An Encyclopedic Survey of Archaeoastronomy

Book

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxv
  2. Historical Perspectives

  3. Astronomical Background

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 7-7
    2. Pages 85-107
    3. Pages 109-153
  4. Astronomy in Cultures

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 503-612

About this book

Introduction

Exploring Ancient Skies brings together the methods of archaeology and the insights of modern astronomy to explore the science of astronomy as it was practiced in various cultures prior to the invention of the telescope. The book reviews an enormous and growing body of literature on the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, the Far East, and the New World (particularly Mesoamerica), putting the ancient astronomical materials into their archaeological and cultural contexts.

The authors begin with an overview of the field and proceed to essential aspects of naked-eye astronomy, followed by an examination of specific cultures. The book concludes by taking into account the purposes of ancient astronomy: astrology, navigation, calendar regulation, and (not least) the understanding of our place and role in the universe. Skies are recreated to display critical events as they would have appeared to ancient observers - events such as the supernova of 1054, the 'lion horoscope' or the 'Star of Bethlehem.'

Exploring Ancient Skies provides a comprehensive overview of the relationships between astronomy and other areas of human investigation. It will be useful as a reference for scholars and students in both astronomy and archaeology, and will be of compelling interest to readers who seek a broad understanding of our collective intellectual history.

Keywords

Supernova Universe astronomy telescope

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyThe University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Physics and AstronomyThe University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

Bibliographic information

Reviews

From the reviews:

"...An invaluable resource for any astronomical historian-hobbyist or professional....Their book is a blockbuster achievement that will be a great reference source for details, discussion, and argument for years to come." (Owen Gingerich, SKY AND TELESCOPE, August 2005)

"Exploring Ancient Skies aims to cover the entire spectrum of the subject - scientific, geographical, mythological and historical - and to underline many of the interpretive problems. It succeeds superbly. I will turn to it time and again, not only for reference but also for enjoyment." (David Hughes, THE TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT, December 2, 2005)

"Exploring Ancient Skies aims to cover the entire spectrum of the subject – scientific, geographical, mythological and historical … . It succeeds superbly. I will turn to it time and again, not only for reference but also for enjoyment. Students, scholars and researchers will benefit hugely … . The book’s scope is vast. … It is profusely illustrated and much care has been taken with the production of the descriptive figures. There is also a 50-page reference section and a thorough index." (David Hughes, The Times Higher, December, 2005)

"David Kelly, a distinguished linguist … and Eugene Milone, a widely traveled astronomer, both from the University of Calgary, have teamed up to produce their hefty and aptly titled Exploring Ancient Skies. … lists some 3,000 bibliographical sources – a wealth of information that every astronomy teacher … would love to have within arm’s reach. … Their book is a block-buster achievement that will be a great reference source for details, discussion, and argument for years to come." (Owen Gingerich, Sky & Telescope, August, 2005)

"Kelly (emer., archaeology, Univ. of Calgary) and Milone (Univ. of Calgary) review what is known of pre-telescopic astronomy and its place in cultures worldwide. … This book is well served by many data tables, drawings, photographs … references to the literature, and an annotated guide to archaeostronomy tools. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals." (M. Dickinson, CHOICE, Vol. 42 (9), May, 2005)